The CBI has commented on the Government’s announcement that the Equalities Act will be introduced from October. The CBI is the UK’s leading business organisation, speaking for some 240,000 businesses that together employ around a third of the private sector workforce.

Katja Hall, CBI Director of HR policy, said: “The Equality Act should in many respects make things clearer and simpler for employers.

“Bringing nine separate pieces of legislation together in one place should give employers more confidence in addressing diversity in the workplace.

“But the Government has missed an opportunity to say it will remove mandatory gender pay reporting from the legislation.

“Forcing companies to publish average salary figures for men and women could mislead people into thinking that women are paid less than men in the same role, which is rightly illegal, when differences will actually reflect the proportions of men and women in higher-paid jobs.

“The policy is also likely to backfire. Companies that have too few women in higher paid roles, and are trying to attract more, would be forced to publish a statistic that could deter female applicants and compound the problem.”